We have had a lot of progress and excitement happening over the past two weeks, and I’m finally finding the time to sit down and tell you all about it!
First, I started communicating with Amy, a surrogate coordinator for Northwest Surrogacy Center.
She processed a background check on Josh and me, and reviewed my medical history before forwarding it on to UCSF, Brooks and Laura’s fertility clinic. Then, their nurse, Cathy, reviewed my previous pregnancy records and requested a few records that were not originally included– records from the hospital reference Kaelyn’s delivery, my psychological evaluation from my previous surrogacy, and all of my medical records from my previous surrogacy in vitro cycle.
The psychological clearance letter came almost immediately after I requested it, thanks to Dr. Bergman of Fertility Counseling Services. Cathy forwarded this along to UCSF’s psychologist for review, and she determined that because it was 2 years ago, I need to have an in person evaluation with her when I go up to UCSF for my medical screening. This was part of the screening process for my previous surrogacy journey, and it is basically a 30-90 minute counseling session during which we discuss the specifics of surrogacy and how it will affect my life. It gives the psychologist the opportunity to confirm that I am psychologically stable and have a solid understanding of what it is I am signing up for, and that she believes I have the mental/emotional capacity to successfully carry and deliver a surrogate pregnancy. She’s also making sure my husband and I aren’t secretly crazy. 😉 At this point in time she will determine if it is necessary for me to re-take the MMPI-2, a tedious 567 question true/false exam. Fingers crossed we don’t give off a crazy vibe and I’m allowed to skip this step!
I was able to head straight over to the hospital and request that my delivery records from Kaelyn’s pregnancy be faxed to UCSF, and I submitted a request for all of my surrogacy cycle records from HRC. On Tuesday, the surrogacy records came in from HRC, and I was able to send those off to Cathy as well. Unfortunately, it was at this time that we realized there was a slight mix up with my delivery records as I had listed an old fax number for UCSF, and thus the records never arrived. I stopped back by the office yesterday to re submit the request with the correct fax number, and I was told they should be delivered within 1-2 business days. Provided everything looks ok with both of those (which I can’t imagine it wouldn’t– both were uncomplicated and successful pregnancy/deliveries.), we will officially be done with the “review” phase and on to contracts! WOO HOO!
While we were waiting on this, I received my insurance policy document, and we got some (tentative) good news.
Based on the way the policy is worded, it is looking very, very promising that my personal health insurance plan will cover my pregnancy whether I’m pregnant with a baby of my own, or someone else’s. Yeah!! This is a huge cost-saver for Brooks and Laura, and thus very good news! Because our agency wants to make sure that everything is done just right, they have forwarded my policy to a California broker who will double check it to confirm that we are correct and it is entirely legal to use my own policy for a surrogate pregnancy. Fingers crossed he reaches the same conclusion we did.
Josh and I also had a Skype consult with NWSC this past week to learn a little bit more about this agency and how they will help facilitate this process for us. It was a little over an hour long and very informational. We had the opportunity to discuss many things with Amy, and Kelsey (another surrogate coordinator), and talk about where to go from here. To be entirely honest, I didn’t know what to expect. With my last surrogacy journey I did a ton of research before settling on an agency. That was the main decision I had to make, and a lot of time/consideration went into deciding on which agency I would work with. This time, I’m in it for Brooks and Laura. They had already signed with an agency prior to our meeting, and I agreed to proceed forward with their agency, but I was a little hesitant, knowing very little about it. I have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised. Their agency is totally on top of things, and they made the whole process feel so personal. My previous agency was wonderful. I got emails back almost immediately and everything was handled promptly and efficiently. Yet, it was quite obviously a business for them. All communication felt as if it was in regards to a business transaction. My experience with NWSC has already been so different. It is apparent that they recognize this process is personal, and treat it as such. Amy and Kelsey were warm and encouraging, and I really felt as though they cared about me and Josh, and getting to know us and making sure that we were comfortable. They even agreed to let me take a photo for the blog. Say hey to Amy and Kelsey!
And finally, we got to “meet” Brooks and Laura!! It feels totally silly saying that we just met them, because I feel like we know them so well already (Laura and I have been emailing/texting back and forth constantly), but this was the first time we had actually met in person.
Our morning was a bit hectic as Kaelyn, our 6yr old had a doctor’s appointment and had to undergo a couple medical procedures bright and early, but we made it back just in time for their arrival. While Kaelyn and I were off at doctor’s offices, Josh managed to get Scarlett off to school on time and wash the breakfast dishes. Thanks honey!! I’m a little bit of a neat freak and wanted to make sure everything was perfect and ready for their arrival. 😉 I don’t know how to explain the feelings leading up to our meeting other than comparing it to a first date. It’s a weird comparison, I know, but that’s the most similar thing I can think of. Just that nervous, butterflies, “What are we going to talk about? What should I wear? What’s too personal to bring up? What will make for easy conversation? I hope there aren’t any awkward silences” kind of feeling. Having a busy morning certainly took a little bit of the stress out of it because I didn’t have much time down time to think about their impending arrival before the time was upon us.
The card they brought for us says it best:
Perfect card for a perfect day. We had a blast. Both of our girls got to meet Brooks and Laura. Kaelyn first, who introduced herself very officially. She also offered them a tour of our home (And garden– which is somehow still alive despite the fact that I am its primary caretaker. Anyone who knows me knows this is huge– holla!) Brooks and Laura were so sweet, and came with gifts for us and our girls. We are superduperhappy to know that they are Disney fans as well, because let’s be real Disney=life in the Paschall home. They brought some fun Disney-themed craft items for our girls– huge hit! And a bottle of wine and coffee mug for Josh and I to enjoy before I’m knocked up and no longer allowed to enjoy these things. So thoughtful, and I absolutely adore the new mug that Laura had made. How awesome is this?!
Getting good use out of it already! Thanks, you guys!!
After a little bit of time to hang out and get acquainted, the three of us jumped on a Skype chat with our Case Manager from NWSC, Heidi. During this time we made “official” all of the topics we had previously discussed at length:
Who gets to be there for the birth? Mom, dad, and Josh.
Will Brooks and Laura come to appointments? You betchya.
How many embryos are we transferring? ONE!
If the universe determines Brooks and Laura are meant to have twins and that one embryo splits, what do we do? Climb aboard the twin train and plan for twice the fun!
How do I envision labor/delivery going? It’s going to be a party!
Views on reduction/termination? Against it, with the exception being a threat to my own life.
What are we most looking forward to? Brooks and Laura taking home a healthy baby, of course!
It was quick and painless as we had already covered all these topics prior to the Skype chat… more of a formality than anything. But Heidi is forwarding our preferences regarding these major points on to Tabitha, in the legal department. She told us to give Tabitha about a week to draft our initial contract. At this point we will both review it separately with our respective attorneys, negotiate/make any changes we see necessary, and have it signed/sealed/delivered. As soon as this step is complete we will move right along to med/psych screening– a trip to San Fran for Josh and I that will consist of lots of blood work, a urine sample, an ultrasound, and a psych consult. Once that is complete, we will be clear to start medications and proceed with an embryo transfer! SO EXCITING!!
The rest of the day was very casual. We didn’t have anything planned and really just wanted to hang out and get to know each other a little better. I think the biggest surprise to me was how little we had to discuss. When we first met J&C, there was so much to go over… so many questions to ask, so much we wanted to know. This time around, we have been in regular communication for almost a month and we have pretty much covered it all. There were no surprises, no uncomfortable conversation topics. It was just a fun day of hanging out and spending time.
Scarlett got the chance to meet Brooks and Laura after school, and she was so ridiculously shy. We have been talking about their visit for the past two weeks and both of our girls were so looking forward to meeting them. I couldn’t believe how shut down and silly Scarlett ended up being when the time finally came. I knew she would be bummed after the fact, given that she wasn’t really giving herself the chance to get to know them, but she’s four so what can you do? We enjoyed a nice lunch together where we all ate way too much– mmmmm Italian! And came home stuffed and content.
I had decided that Scarlett was having an off day and that was just how it was going to be when Laura brought up Candy Land. Scarlett’s face lit up like it was Christmas morning! It was apparent she is great with kids, and knew just what to say to finally bring Scarlett out of her shell. We played a modified version of Candy Land– Scarlett’s rules, of course 😉 During which she was the cardholder and any requests for movement had to be cleared by her. Sophie, our pup took advantage of this time and commandeered Laura’s lap while begging for continuous belly rubs and repeatedly knocking over the game pieces. It was super casual, silly, and just the right environment to allow Scar to warm up to Brooks and Laura.
After this we hung around a bit more. The girls drug Brooks and Laura outside where they demonstrated some impressive acrobatics on our tire swing that had me holding my breath and yelling, “Ahh!! Two hands!! Kaelyn, not so fast!” Typical mom stuff. It was relaxed and easy and just felt so natural having them spend the day with us. The girls thoroughly enjoyed their presence and quickly turned our backyard into their own personal stage. Singing frozen songs and having dance parties galore. It was a blast.
As the time for them to leave drew near we realized that we were seriously lacking in the picture department, so we posed for a few quick photos to document this glorious day. This is the first real step in our journey to Baby P, and it couldn’t have possibly gone better. We are so excited to be beginning this process with Brooks and Laura. They are going to make fabulous parents, and I feel really honored to be the woman who gets to help them do just that! <3
You can read more about Tarynn on her personal blog: Their Pea, My Pod